In an era where everything is so rush-rush and instant—especially with new music—it's sometimes refreshing to let things pass you by so you can focus on one piece of work, allowing yourself to take in every lyric and emotion that artist has lived, for a long period of time. Like with albums, it's good to sit with (some of) them and make them a part of your everyday life and routine, blocking out the noise of casual single drops that are often forgotten about the following day. As a music critic, it's rare that I get to do this, so it's not hard to get so caught up in a project that you actually forget to review it.
I will admit, though: I've done this a few times, missing the hype train when it comes to certain releases, and I'm not ashamed to hold my hands up. But when you're sitting on an album like Travel Light and have the platform to share it with the world, it would be a big sin not to. Manchester-based act Children Of Zeus—comprised of two talented artists in their own right, Tyler Daley and Konny Kon—are the creators of Travel Light, a 13-track offering that looks at the past, present, and future, sonically. With a penchant for everything from neo-soul and jazz to R&B and '90s rap, their influences are put on display for the world to see on this—in my opinion—criminally underrated UK album.
Having previously worked on solo and collaborative projects, and with over twenty years each in the music biz, there is a chemistry that bleeds respect when Tyler and Konny are together on record; you get a real sense that each artist's ear for music is held in the highest of regards. Travel Light is—without a doubt—one of 2018's finest bodies of work, so it was only right that Complex caught up with the duo for a track-by-track breakdown of it. Take it all in below and stream the full album on iTunes, Spotify, or Bandcamp now.
"The Story So Far"
Konny Kon: "When we first started Children Of Zeus, one thing that we decided we would do is produce everything ourselves. Christmas 2017, we started making Travel Light and K15 and Beat Butcha both sent us beats that ruined that plan. K15 gave us the beat for 'Vibrations', which we knew would end the album, and Beat Butcha gave us this beat and we knew it would set the album off, so we just had to fill in the gaps for the rest of the album. There's no samples on this one, which just goes to show how dope Beat Butcha is. Also, I genuinely got emotional trying to write this verse. It was the last song we wrote to, and I realised that the dream a 13-year-old Konny had was happening as I was writing."
"All On You" f/ [ K S R ] & DRS
Konny: "[ K S R ] was this 19-year-old enigma from Manchester who put all this amazing soul music on SoundCloud but I had no other info on him. We ended up being on the same show one day, and he blew us away live, and after the show he was one of the most likeable people I'd met in years. DRS shouldn't need an introduction; he's the glue that holds Manchester together. Before COZ, I toured the world with him as part of Broke'N'English. He's at legendary status for me, at this point. Love both of these guys to death."
Konny: "This beat was sent with 4 trillion other gems by a guy from Switzerland called Sebb, a true school hip-hop producer with links to Mobb Deep/Alchemist and has done production and cuts for a lot of the New York guys. There's so many layers of sounds and samples in this one that, when we mixed it, we didn't even know where to start. My verse is a nod to Main Source's 'Looking At The Front Door', for those that know. One of my favourites on the album."
Konny: "This one really is Tyler's baby. We released it as a single, even though the format and song structure says otherwise, but I think it sums us up pretty well. It's bugged out. There's no rules. It's new. It's old. It's soul. It's hip-hop."
Konny: "If I had my way, all of our music would sound like this. I loved the process of making this one; we produced and wrote it together. This album, we tried a new way of working which was losing all the ego and, rather than treating it as a competition—who could bring the best beat or bars to the studio—we decided to work on a few of the tracks together. I wanted to use that Ghostface scratch we used on the chorus for a while; we sent the track to Mr Thing, and it came out exactly how I imagined."
Konny: "Another beat from Beat Butcha we couldn't turn down. No samples again, for those asking. I think with all the braggadocio usually associated with hip-hop, people really appreciated the honesty and struggles put into this one. I wanted the outro to be reminiscent of the lady on A Tribe Called Quest's 'Midnight Marauders' skits. Keep bouncing!"
"The Heart Beat"
Tyler: "Gotta throw a slow jam in there. I don't think we've ever performed this live but looking forward to a day when it's the right settings to pull this one out."
"Fear Of A Flat Planet" f/ LayFullStop
Tyler: "I played this beat to Konny and he did his usual unimpressed nostril-flare-screwface [laughs]. Forward to a few weeks later and we finally got LayFullStop in the studio. She put her verse down and Konny's face was the total opposite. Lay's voice is so delicate compared to the way that me and Kon record, but it's probably one of the most memorable parts of the album. It seems to be a lot of people's standout song. Our guy, Metrodome from Levelz, he added some keys and synths at the end and it was a wrap."
Tyler: "The only song that wasn't purposely made for the album, this is one is around six or seven years old. We remade it for the album and got Ben Price on bass and Soul Purpose on the guitar solo. We both grew up on roots reggae, dancehall, lovers rock, dub, so this is a small dedication to that."
"Sling Shot Riddim" f/ Terri Walker
Tyler: "None of the collabs on the album were thought-out or to draw in new fans. Everything made sense and was strictly for the benefit of working with dope people who we fuck with outside of music. When it comes to UK soul music, Terri [Walker] is someone we put in the lineage of Loose Ends, Soul II Soul, Omar etc. There's not enough time in the day to talk about our connection with her, or list all of her accomplishments, but we love her to death even though she's the best type of crazy and one of the greatest talents we have! We also gave a nod to the heroes of the UK reggae sound, Saxon, with the little sample at the beginning."
Tyler: "'Respect Mine' was produced by a guy from Nottingham called Juga-Naut. He's one of the nicest MCs to ever come out of the UK and has crazy beats, too. You'll all catch up soon! This is the only song without singing, for some reason. Mr Thing on the cuts again as well! Strictly for the hip-hop lovers."
Tyler: "We made this the night before we had to hand the album in. It replaced a song called 'All Night' last minute and was an idea Konny had been playing with. Also, his dad wasn't a scientist and didn't kill a whale [laughs], but he heard the song and loves it."
Konny: "K15 sent us some beats that were pretty much neo-soul/hip-hop beats. I said to him, 'These are dope, but think outside the box. We can make that type of stuff all day. Send us something that says K15!' I got this one back and immediately sent it to Tyler. I don't even know what genre of music it is, but I just think it's soul music."
Tyler: "It was the first song we wrote for Travel Light and we knew it was going to be the outro to the album straight away. K15 is an underrated genius. Overall, the album took roughly three months to make, and this one set it off."